By Our Reporter
JATAH (East Khasi Hills): The proposed Umngot Hydel Power Project has suffered a major setback with majority of the land owners having unanimously decided to oppose the project.
Land owners hailing from the nine villages who are going to lose their agricultural land on account of the proposed hydel power project have taken a unanimous decision to oppose the project during a public meeting held at Jatah village near Mawkynrew village in East Khasi Hills on Saturday.
The land owners are opposed to the project as they are unhappy over the way the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) has come up with fragmented figures in their project report by claiming that the agricultural land of only 139 villagers would be affected.
“We are shocked over the MeECL figure. The number of people who would be losing their land on account of this project would be much higher than what is claimed by the MeECL,” Sordar of Siangkhnai village, Klansing Suting, told reporters after the public meeting.
Using simple arithmetic, the Sordar pointed out that a total number of nine villages would be affected by the project and if only 30 villagers from each village lose their agricultural land, the sum total of affected people would definitely be higher then what is claimed by the MeECL.
He also pointed out that land owners of the area are unhappy that the MeECL carried out the survey without taking them into confidence.
One of the land owners, S Suting of Umsawar village, even alleged that during the survey, the MeECL survey team destroyed crops and fruits and even cut many trees without informing the villagers.
Suting also claimed that villagers had to incur huge losses amounting to lakhs of rupees due to this irresponsible act on the part of the MeECL team.
Meanwhile, a prominent leader of Jongksha area, Kansing Lyngshiang, said local residents would continue to oppose the project till the time the MeECL clarifies all the doubts in the minds of the land owners.
“The MeECL cannot take the villagers for a ride by preparing a false report without studying the ground reality on the impact of the project on the local population,” he said.
It may be recalled during the recent public hearing organised by Meghalaya Pollution State Control Board (MPSCB), the MeECL had come under severe criticism for presenting incorrect data with regards to the draft final report of the assessment of the proposed 240 (30×8) MW Umngot Hydroelectric Power Project at East Khasi Hills.
This project, which is to be executed by the MeECL, received its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification from the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment in 2006 and the site clearance was given in 2007. Assessment and survey began in 2008.
According to reports presented by Superintending Engineer (SE) Investigation Design-MeECL, HW Lyngdoh Mawnai, the estimate of the project in 2010 was Rs 1564 crore but after escalation and interest, the cost has increased to Rs 1853 crore. The proposed project has a six-year deadline.
It was also informed that this project will cover only one per cent of the total covered area which is 390 hectares of the total land cover of around 40,000 hectares.
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